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Saving PDF files without using Acrobat Pro

Posted on 2006-05-11
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I was wondering if there is an app out there, (maybe something open source?) that will allow my sales team to save the order forms they fill out using acrobat reader. I figure you can do it using Acrobat Pro, but it's a lot of money to spend for our 4 sales guys and a lot of wasted funstionality. so I guess there must be something out there that I can use. Can anyone offer any advice?

Many thanks

Robert Dolphin
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Question by:tanjuakio
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Expert Comment

by:lherrou
ID: 16667225
Tanjuakio,

Sure. Get PrimoPDF (free, get it here: http://www.primopdf.com/), and then just print to PDF.

Cheers,
LHerrou
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Karl Heinz Kremer earned 500 total points
ID: 16667408
Saving a form and printing the form are two different things... If you are happy with printing the forms, then go with LHerrou's recommendation, PrimoPDF is a very good package (and you just cannot beat the price :) If you need to save the forms, meaning you want to keep everything in an interactive PDF so that you can go back into the file and make changes, then there is nothing you can do but spend some money. YOu don't have to buy Acrobat Pro, Standard is sufficient to fill forms and save the form (you just cannot create new forms with it), but you can even save a bit by not going with Acrobat software: The Nitro PDF Professional package is $99, and it does support form filling (and, you can even create new forms with it). They also have a 30 day trial version:

http://www.nitropdf.com/

(I just noticed that the price on the web site is $89.10 when you buy online)
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Expert Comment

by:rbassal
ID: 16685175
Here is one i've used  It works the way you want, by creating a new 'printer' in your list, the output being the document in pdf format.
Its free, with a small pop-up to the PDF995 site offering you to buy the full version (minor annoyance, just close it)

www.pdf995.com
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16685271
Thanks for all the suggestions! I'll have a look when I get into the office tomorrow! (Can't tonight, I'm starving! food is calling!)
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16685384
pdf995 is also not a form filling application.
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Expert Comment

by:Lucrecious
ID: 16759015
Robert,

You need to unlock the reader extensions.
This requires Livecycle reader extension server (~$10,000) and a dedicated server OR
a third party service like Form Router.
http://www.formrouter.com/about/pr/10_12_04_reader.htm

Their fee is reasonable ~$100 setup and ~$150 per page for one year.

Hope this helps...

Lucrecious
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16769959
I tried the Nitropdf, looks good, and the price is right, but I get an error telling me I have the wrong version of Acrobat on my machine (I've got v7 and acrobat Pro) and all my text boxes are out of line.
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16788981
When do you get this error (during installation, or when you run it)? What is the exact error message? Which version of Acrobat Professional are you running?
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16840766
I get the error when I open a PDF I created using Acrobat Pro v7.0 I have v7.0 of the reader installed to. The message is:

"The PDF form requires a ewer version of Adobe Acrobat. Although the form ay appear to work properly, some elements may function improperly or may not not appear at all. Press OK to initiate an online update or see your system administrator."

I have run the update thing, but I'm on the latest version.

Apologies for the tardy reply!

Many thanks

Robert
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16841369
It looks like NitroPDF can only read PDF 1.5 files (and not the format's version 1.6 that was introduced with Acrobat 7). In general, this is not a problem - that is, as long as you are not using any of the new PDF 1.6 features. You can actually save a file as PDF 1.5 in Acrobat 7: You either do this with the "File>Reduce file size" feature (no control over how the file size is reduced), or with the "Advanced>PDF Optimizer" (prefered solution). Just make sure that you disable all image downsampling and other potentially dangerous optimization features (that's what you cannot do with the "Reduce File Size" function - it just selects these things for you).
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by:tanjuakio
ID: 16841560
hmmmm, I tried that but I now recieve this message:

"This PDF contains an Adobe XML form. Such PDFs cannot be optimized."

How frustrating!
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16841641
This means that you used Designer, and not Acrobat to create your form.

Even though you will write out a file with the extension .PDF when you use Designer, you are not really creating a PDF file: It's a XML form that's wrapped into PDF for transport purposes, but it has very little to do with a real PDF file. That's the reason why you cannot edit the file in Acrobat.

Unfortunately with Acrobat 7, Adobe screwed up the meaning of a "PDF form" - it's not longer clear what type of form you are dealing with, and that causes a ton of problems. Is there a specifc reason why you are dealing with XML forms?
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16841822
No specific reason, I just thought Designer would be the way to go. inexperience I guess. Would there be a way of rescuing the situation with designer?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16842334
Unfortunately not - once the file is in XML format, there is nothing you can do to convert it back to an acroform.
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16843595
bugger!
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16844404
I know. Adobe really should have emphasized more what it means to use Designer. Just to bundle it with Acrobat kind of gives the wrong impression. I still use AcroForms (the old kind) because they are much easier to deal with (and I know how to create and process them).
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by:tanjuakio
ID: 16847227
Thats a pain. Unless anyone knows how to convert back to Acroform, Is it possible to give you the points for trying to help even though we couldn't solve my problem?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16851098
How complicated would it be to recreate the form in Acrobat?
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Author Comment

by:tanjuakio
ID: 16851137
I need to have fillable fields. Its an order from that the salesmen fill out on site. I didn't think I could do that with Acrobat?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 16851199
Yes, you can do that with Acrobat: THere are two ways to create forms with the Acrobat package. Adobe introduced interactive forms (I think) in Acrobat 2, and until they bundled Designer, that was the only way to create forms in Acrobat. And that's also the mechanism that uses "normal" PDF files, and not the XML-wrapped-in-PDF style that Designer uses.

You do need the full version of Professional for that (which you have, because you have Designer). Open up the form without the form fields (or, just to get some experience with this feature, any old PDF file will do).
Then go to the "Tools" menu in Acrobat. Select the "Advanced Editing" submenu. Here you will find all the forms tools: Button, Check box, combo box, list box, radio button, text field, and the signature tool. To create a text input field, select the "Text Field Tool" and notice how your cursor changes. Then draw a rectangle on the PDF page. This will bring up the properties dialog for the newly created form field.
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Expert Comment

by:Dier02
ID: 20122694
What you can do is have the data sent via e-mail as an XML attachment.  Create two folders, one on your documents and one in your e-mail inbox.  Call the inbox folder "xml" and call the folder in your docs data".
Then use the following VB script to export the attachments from your inbox folder to your folder on your desktop.  Once you have done that simply import into Excel usinga XSD map so that the info goes into the correct cells.  If you likk the tables in Excel to an acccess database you can use all the reporting functions of Access.

set fso = createobject("scripting.filesystemobject")
strFolderName="xml"
strSavePath="C:\Documents and Settings\reid\My Documents\data\"
Const olFolderInbox = 6
Set objApp = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
Set objNS = objApp.GetNamespace("MAPI")
Set objInbox = objNS.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
Set objFolder = objInbox.Folders(strFolderName)
Set objItems = objFolder.Items
For each objMail in objItems

      if objMail.Attachments.Count > 0 then
          For i = 1 To objMail.Attachments.Count
                  afix = 1
                  fn_newname = objMail.Attachments.Item(i).FileName
                  do while fso.fileexists(strSavePath & fn_newname)
                      fn_newname = left(objMail.Attachments.Item(i).FileName, instrrev(objMail.Attachments.Item(i).FileName, ".") - 1) & "_Copy-" & afix & right(objMail.Attachments.Item(i).FileName, instrrev(objMail.Attachments.Item(i).FileName, ".") - 1)
                       afix = afix + 1
                  loop
                  objMail.Attachments.Item(i).SaveAsFile strSavePath &  fn_newname
            Next

      end if
Next
Set objItems = Nothing
Set objFolder = Nothing
Set objInbox = Nothing
Set objNS = Nothing
Set objApp = Nothing
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Expert Comment

by:Dier02
ID: 20122726
go to notepad and save the script as a VBS file i.e xml.vbs (make sure you change it to all files in the save as window.
This way your salespeople can use the Adobe designer forms, send the data to you via e-mail, and you can then send this on to Excel or Access
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Expert Comment

by:Dier02
ID: 20122741
sorry: substitute this strSavePath="C:\Documents and Settings\yournamehere\My Documents\data\"
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